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11 modern-day ruins worth a visit

July 17, 2013, 1:40 p.m.
Kolmanskop, Namibia

Photo: Damien du Toit/Flickr

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Kolmanskop, Namibia

Kolmanskop, an abandoned desert town in southern Namibia, was once a thriving diamond mining hub. After the first Kolmanskop miners became wealthy thanks to their discoveries, there was a kind of diamond rush, with German fortune-seekers building a European-style village complete with a ballroom, school, medical facilities and even a ice factory. During the early decades of the 20th century, the mines became depleted and the town was finally abandoned in the 1950s. Today, tourists with permits may enter the area. Thanks to the arid climate, some of the buildings are still in good shape, though desert winds have blown sand into many of them, creating strange indoor “dunes” that cover rooms and block still-intact doorways. The town lies only a few miles inland from the charming colonial-era port town of Lüderitz.